Whenever the MLS season does resume, fixture congestion is going to be inevitable with this much time lost on the regular schedule.
Teams would almost certainly have to be playing multiple games a week, every week for lengthy stretches, whether it's at a singular neutral site or if teams wind up getting cleared to play in their home markets sooner than anticipated. With that comes injury risk, with one proposal to mitigating that potential issue being allowing each team to make five substitutions per match instead of the usual three.
Real Salt Lake head coach Freddy Juarez has a more informed perspective than most on that idea, having spent much of his time with the organization before becoming the head coach manning the sidelines for RSL's academy teams, where the five-sub rule was already in effect. When it comes to the idea of implementing it in a resumed MLS season, Juarez said he's all in favor of it as it relates to doing whatever it takes to ensure the players aren't at a heightened risk for injury.
But he also said he sees the other side of it as far as how it could effect the on-field product.
"Yeah, I think it would be good [to reduce injury risk]," Juarez told reporters on a Tuesday Zoom call. "I dealt with that at the academy level, you had five subs... I think [the proposal] is very similar from what I've read. It could be a good thing.
"You know what I found though is that it killed the rhythm of the game, or it did at moments. But you know what? I'm all about the players and if it's going to help with avoiding injuries, it's just things we would have to do. If they throw a lot of games at us, it will be a good thing. But I've also seen the other part of it is a lot of subs can hurt the game. It could also help it though, it depends what side you're on — bring in some guys and they bring some energy, but it could also hurt it with just too many subs coming in, it breaks up the flow of the game."
As discussions continue as to how a 2020 season might resume, the coach's focus remains on keeping his players on track fitness-wise and running the voluntary individual workouts that a few clubs throughout the league have begun hosting, with RSL among that group.
"I know the guys would rather train with the team, but it was productive, good training sessions," he said. "You have to get creative, we had to dig out old equipment, we had to borrow from the academy, pick up benches and some tables just to make sure we could put enough equipment for the guys to actually get something out of it. It's awesome to see, we had [Real] Monarchs, ourselves, some academy coaches, the field maintenance people, everyone coming together to kind of put their hand in on how we can get these sessions out for the guys.
"It was nice to see everyone come together and run something very smooth. Bringing the whole club together, it was amazing to do that, but also, did they get something out it? I think so, I think they were excited."